New Zealand suicide survivor's story part of London exhibition aimed at destigmatising mental health problems

A New Zealand woman is heading a new exhibition in the UK which hopes to remove the stigma around mental health.

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Timaru-born Jazz Thornton played a part in the exhibition’s launch. Source: 1 NEWS

Timaru-born Jazz Thornton played a part in the launch in London, and she's had backing from some high profile names including actor and comedian Stephen Fry, UNICEF's executive director Henrietta Fore, world leaders and the royal family.

In London's Covent Garden, the Museum of Lost and Found Potential is hoping to destigmatise mental health.

But For Ms Thornton, it's also something personal for her. She is a suicide survivor after trying to take her own life several times as a teenager.

"The first time I tried to take my life I was only 12 and if I had got the help I needed back then it probably would've saved me years of being in psych wards and the years that were literally taken from my life."

She said a lot of work had gone into the exhibition which showcases 16 artefacts that represent people with mental health issues, including a tree branch which snapped loudly, alerting a passerby who saved her life.

Source: TVNZ

Other artefacts include a depressed mother's diary and a boot of a 15-year-old bulimic who loved horse riding.

"There's been so much work put in to it in telling a story that has literally never been told before and of all of it to came together to see the stories and artefacts ... is pretty emotional," she said.

The World Health Organisation estimates the number of deaths by suicide at 800,000 across the world every year. That's one person losing their life every 40 seconds.

"It can be difficult to ask for help and we need to acknowledge it's a very brave thing to do," United for Global Mental Health Cheif Executive Elisha London said. "We need to do a lot better to make sure that everyone everywhere has someone to turn to when they need support."

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has been among several world leaders adding their support to the cause, and the royal family has voiced a television ad which says, "everyone knows that feeling when life gets on top of us". 

The exhibition opens to the public tomorrow.